A Very Short Introduction : Spinoza

Normally, I like this series of books, but in the case of Spinoza I have to give only two stars out of five.

I’m not sure if that’s down to Spinoza or the author.

The only ideas that I understand are:

Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free, and this opinion consists in this alone, that they are conscious of their actions and ignorant of the causes whereby they are determined. (Ethics 2,35)

The idea of liberty is an error of imagination and provides neither guidance nor happiness to the person who is enslaved by it. The more we understand, the more we are convinced of the unreality of temporal freedom and the more do we see the truth that:

There is no mind absolute or free will, but the mind is determined to will this or that by a cause which is determined by another cause and this one again by another, and so on ad infinitum. (Ethics 2, 46)

Such infinite chains of causal necessity are simply the reflection, under the aspect of time, of that which, seen under the aspect of eternity, is the eternal and immutable will of God.

The illusion that we can be free in time gives way to the certainty that we can be free from time. This real and higher freedom Spinoza goes on to recommend.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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